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From left: Miss Kenda Knowles, Miss Brenda
Namumba and Miss Heather Prince.

Students from the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU) excelled at the Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA) postgraduate bursary conference held in Stellenbosch.

Miss Kenda Knowles won first prize in the PhD Presentation category while Miss Brenda Namumba was placed first and Miss Heather Prince second in the Masters Presentation category.

The Conference, which provides an opportunity for SKA SA-supported PhD and MSc students as well as Postdoctoral Fellows to present their work,  has grown from an attendance of 15 students at the first gathering in 2006 to more than 120 postgraduate students and Postdoctoral Fellows. The Conference was also attended by several local and international astronomy researchers.

Knowles’s talk was titled: “Radio Halos in ACT Galaxy Clusters”, while Namumba spoke on the “evolution of cold gas in active galaxies”. Both students have worked with data from the KAT-7 instrument and are looking forward to working with MeerKAT data.

Prince presented her research on “cosmic microwave background lensing”.

SKA SA funds engineering and science students in order to build local capacity for the SKA project. It focuses on supporting students who have a record of academic excellence and a strong interest in working on the SKA project.

‘We are very proud of the accomplishments of our students. It is interesting to note that the three winners were all female – an indication that the demographics in this field are changing,’ said Professor Sunil Maharaj, Director of ACRU, which is based in UKZN’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, and UKZN’s School of Physics and Chemistry.